East Portland farmers markets close, after growing season

But wait! Farm market enthusiasts, rejoice! Read this, and find out where you still can shop for fresh local foods – outdoors – even now that the winter weather has arrived. Two of these are this weekend …

Fresh seasonal produce – and delicious fruit, like these apples – greet shoppers at outer East Portland’s three farmers markets.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Farmers Markets in outer East Portland are maturing – and of the three that we cover each summer in Lents, Montavilla, and Parkrose, each reported a “bumper crop” of customers and food producers – even with this year’s odd weather during the growing season.

Lents International Farmers Market

Market manager,  Eliza Davenport Market…grower/merchant Tatiana Puzur… Zenger Farm’s manager, Sara Cogan…and market volunteer Melanie McCandless  all pause a moment, as the last Lents International Farmers Market for the season closes.

Their season ended on with a party for vendors and shoppers on October 16 this year. And, Lents’ market manager Eliza Davenport said she was grateful for the good late-summer weather.

“This year, we had a great season,” Davenport reported. “The weather was definitely a challenge, both for the customers and the farmers. The growing season was a little odd this year. But this July and October were booming – we had lots of customers, and lots of great produce.”

There truly is an international flavor at the Lents market – where people from many cultures come to sell and to shop.

A typical market days, she said, finds about 800 customers shopping at their now “trademark” corner at SE 92nd Avenue and SE Foster Road.

As the market day drew to a close, and fresh food was put out for folks, Davenport took time to praise the 20 volunteers who help out. “We could not have done it without you!”

Market Lents will open again on June 5, 2011.

Julia Alvarez buys fresh Zenger Farms produce from Genevieve Flanagan.

Zenger hosts Harvest Market on November 20
Closely associated with the Lents market is Zenger Farm, just up the street, about 20 blocks away.

On November 20, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m., you can stock up on locally-grown produce for your Holiday meals. They’re featuring six varieties of winter squash, along with onions, garlic, potatoes, beets, parsnips, leeks, chard, kale, and collard greens. “We’re also selling Zenger Farm raw honey – it’s a great gift idea,” commented their Community Involvement Coordinator, Prairie Hale.

While you’re there, take a self-guided tour of this working, urban farm. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE. Zenger Farm is located at 11741 SE Foster Road.

Parkrose Farmers Market

Market Master Steve Voorhees, and his family – Joy, Molly, (a 2010 Parkrose Business Association scholar, now studying nursing) and David, a Parkrose High sophomore – all say they enjoyed this market season.

In keeping with their tradition, the Saturday market at Parkrose High School held its last day on Halloween weekend, October 30.

“We had a very good market season,” said their Market Master, Steve Voorhees. “We ‘kicked butt’ all year, making it a very good and profitable market for all of our vendors.”

John Fagan and Jo Reese shop at Sturm’s Berry Farm’s booth from Halloween-costumed Ruby Snyder, Dayana Garcia, and Rosie Sturm.

We had to say goodbye for the season to one of our Parkrose vendor favorites, Bill and Penny Higley of Penny’s Pop Surprise. (You can still get their special seasoned oil – check out their website: CLICK HERE.)

The growers that sell at the Parkrose market also had a difficult growing season. “It was a very wet spring,” Voorhees pointed out. “It makes it tough for growers. But, we added farmers this year, ending up with 12 different farmers in the market, every week.”

The best part, Voorhees said, “We get great support from our community. There’s a direct communication between the customers and the vendors; something you can’t get from a store, they say. Folks come out every week and let us know that want us here; what we do is valuable.”

The Parkrose market is known for helping local kids groups – including Elizabeth Simkovic, Cindy Emmons, and Lynnzee Morrison, who are raising money to attend Outdoor School.

Another plus which the market brings to the community, Voorhees added, is providing support for Parkrose School District groups. “These young people come helps us set up and tear down, every Saturday. Each group that helps out gets 10% of the market’s stall space rental.”

Look for the Parkrose Farmers Market to reopen the first Saturday in May, 2011. “We’ve got vendor applications on our website,” Voorhees said. To open their webpage, CLICK HERE.

Montavilla Farmers Market

Gretchan Jackson, this market’s manager, is all smiles – and is all dolled up as the Tooth Fairy – on their last regular day, on October 31.

This East Portland market seems to have struck a resonating chord with people in their community. This Sunday market was always abuzz with action.

“We’re having fun here on Halloween day, and we’re happy because it’s not raining,” their market Manager, Gretchan Jackson, told us. “We’ve hit our stride. With about 1,450 shoppers during our four-hour market, we have enough customers that buy from the 35 vendors, matched with enough vendors who bring enough products to sell.”

Saori Grigonis shops produce from the Groundworks Organics stand – they travel from Junction City, Oregon, near Eugene, to vend at the Montavilla market.

Chef Kathryn Yeomans dishes up minestrone and a pumpkin and rice soup prepared from fresh market foods. See what the chef is doing in the “off season” – check her website: CLICK HERE.

Jackson said she’s pleased that the market has retained a “community feeling”. I think we’ve always had a community feeling – because we are from the community. There’s so much volunteerism that goes into our market projects, such as ‘Durable Dish’, and ‘market loner bags’. Someone comes up with a good idea, we and we try it. It’s about community ownership.”

The market can be agile, and able to try new ideas, thanks to their seven-member all- volunteer board. “And, we certainly couldn’t do it without the help of the dozen or so volunteers who help set up the market each week.”

Leann Rowlett of Kiyokawa Orchards in Parkdale, Oregon, has tree fruit that is the apple of Michelle Hokesnson’s eye!

Montavilla hosts holiday and “stock-up” markets
“We hope people will remember to come to our Holiday Market on November 21, prior to Thanksgiving, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.,” Jackson said.

She added that they are also trying “Winter Stock-up Markets” – held the second Sundays of the month in December, January, and February, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Montavilla Farmers (and Holiday and Stock-up) Market is located in the 7600 block of SE Stark Street in Montavilla (across from Mr. Plywood). For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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